Reviews of VT162CD  'Tabhair mo ghrá go Conamara' - 'Bring my love to Connemara'
 


 

This is truly a record to be treasured by anyone with any interest in traditional singing in Irish or English from Connemara. Terry Yarnell’s recordings, made in the early 1970s and never published, have now seen the light of day thanks to Veteran Records, with an immense input from Éamonn Ó Bróithe and John Howson enabling the CD to be accompanied by a most informative 35-page booklet.

The singers themselves are some of the finest to come out of the West of Ireland and deserve individual mention: Sean ‘ac Dhonncha, Pádraic Ó Conghaile, Rita and Sarah Keane, Colm Ó Caoidheáin, Tom Pháidín Tom and Cáit Bean Uí Chonluain left a legacy that is still influencing singing in both languages – just listen to this and you’ll see what I mean. The singing here’s fit to be ranked alongside the better-known likes of Joe Heaney or Dara Bán, among others. The Keane sisters’ pivotal role in the development of the family singing is well known, but there’s plenty of high-quality singing here.

The field recordings themselves have been sympathetically optimised and cleaned up and the 22 tracks (13 in Irish, eight in English and one macaronic) should be of interest to a broader cross section of the folk world than the Irish title might lead you to believe (it translates as Bring My Love To Connemara). It certainly had me enthralled, and will be close to my CD player for quite a while

The Living Tradition

 

***** A treasure-trove of sean nós singing from the 1970s

I doubt there will be a more evocative, or valuable, Irish traditional music disc released this year than this spellbinding collection of archive recordings of sean nós singing, in Gaeilge (Irish Gaelic) and English, from County Galway. ‘Tabhair Mo Ghrá Go Conamara’ showcases six of the county’s finest exponents of the ancient art in previously unreleased recordings from the early 1970s. It’s a moment caught in aspic.

 

The treasure-trove from a lost age has been vividly captured by Terry Yarnell, alumnus of Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger’s London’s Singers Club in the 1960s. Especially poignant is the sense of solidly rooted tradition, lack of artifice and intimacy (a dog is heard barking in the background of one track). If Seán ‘ac Dhonncha’s ‘The Bogs of Shanakeever’ conjures John McCormack’s signature rich burr, elsewhere is evidence of a less refined, more authentically bittersweet experience. The aged voices of Colm Ó Caoidheáin, Tom Pháidín Tom and Pádraic Ó Conghaile offer a touching, time-stopped fragility all their own.

 

Cáit Bean Ui Chonluain and the Keane sisters Sarah and Rita (aunts of De Dannan’s Dolores Keane) inject necessary and eloquent female voices. Éamonn Ó Bróithe and John Howson’s extensive notes are exemplary.

Songlines

 

 

If you have any interest in Irish song this album should be in your collection. Why? No ifs no buts, it is an outstanding work of musical scholarship that is chronicled in its detailed liner notes with musical riches galore on the album’s 22 tracks. This oozes with passionate, engaged, empathetic fieldwork, and an authenticity, which is almost impossible to contrive in a studio.

Released by English based Veteran Records; this is a remarkable and important CD of sean nós singing. The original recordings date back to 1970 when English folk singer and member of Ewan MacColl’s Critics Group, Terry Yarnell, set off to Galway for a two-week recording trip. The landscape was scouted first by the Headford flute player Gabe O’Sullivan, so that they would gain the maximum benefit from their fortnight in the west.

What a corral of singers they met and recorded: Seán ‘ac Dhonncha, Rita & Sarah Keane, Pádraic Ó Conghaile, Tom Pháidín Tom, Cáit Bean Uí Chonluain and Colm Ó Caoidheáin, quality tradition bearers each one. We hear two distinct traditions that were happily co-existing side by side in Connemara fifty years ago; the predominantly English language material of Sarah and Rita Keane (May Morning Dew, The Month of January, There was a Maid in Her Father’s Garden) and the Gaelic tradition exemplified by Tom Pháidín Tom’s Brídín Bhéasaigh. Perhaps the most rewarding selection on the album is the final track. Seán ‘ac Dhonncha’s An Abhainn Mhór (The Owenmore), his voice is superbly recorded and it has a most melodious quality.

This CD is a must have resource, especially if you are ever thinking about taking part in Corn Uí Riada or a Fleadh singing competition.

Irish Music Magazine